There’s a story that would be less disturbing if not true that George H.W. Bush asked a number of close advisers to send him their lists of who should be on his ticket as VP. Dan Quayle — for whom Bill Kristol was chief of staff — was No. 2 on most of these lists.
If Romney or McCain or Giuliani were to win the GOP nomination, the name that would come in first on most of those lists is Mike Huckabee. Some in the Republican camp are pushing Chuck Hagel as a partner for Romney if he wins the nod — and I actually think that would be an excellent pairing, but most odds makers would favor Huckabee.
And as Krauthammer writes today:
Mike Huckabee is not going to be president. The loss in South Carolina, one of the most highly evangelical states in the union, made that plain. With a ceiling of 14 percent among nonevangelical Republicans, Huckabee’s base is simply too narrow.
But his was not a rise and then a fall. He came from nowhere to establish himself as the voice of an important national constituency. Huckabee will continue to matter, and might even carry enough remaining Southern states to wield considerable influence at a fractured Republican convention.
Huckabee as a pre-9/11, pre-Cheney VP would not be that worrisome to me, but the nature and powers of the Vice Presidency have changed and thus the decision about who holds that power matters more than it ever did before in American history.
There is much about Huckabee that makes me feel uncomfortable. I’m not into faith-based politics.
That said, there’s a pragmatic current running in him that few — including me — have paid much attention to, and perhaps that needs to be revisited.
Huckabee is getting counsel from people like JIm Pinkerton and Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations. But Frank Gaffney, one of the co-governors of American neoconservatism, is also an adviser.
I should point out that while Huckabee has stated that he consults with Richard Haass — I have not heard Richard Haass, who is a friend, publicly state that he endorses Huckabee. Haass is President of the Council on Foreign Relations, a non-partisan non-profit organization, and could easily be offering his expertise to any or all of the candidates on an egalitarian basis much like my New America Foundation colleagues and I try and do. But still, I hope that people like Haass have some real impact on Governor Huckabee. I have also not heard from Frank Gaffney that he has endorsed Huckabee. (Update: Just saw this — so Frank Gaffney, like John Bolton may be off the list.)
The challenge this creates for people who care about smart national security and foreign policy decision-making is whether to simply rail at those who have features in their profile we don’t like — or alternatively, to see the candidates as franchises, or as schizophrenic enterprises, with some personalities around the candidate in the dominant position and others subordinate.
George W. Bush has always had realists around him, but they were subordinate and buried beneath the dominance of neoconservatives and pugnacious nationalists for much of his tenure.
If Huckabee increasingly looks like he has a lock on the Vice Presidency — which is the way things are looking to me at this early stage — then many will have to work to fix the realists in a dominant position around him and to curb the influence of international messianic crusaders who will also be part of the Huckabee mix.
— Steve Clemons